Thursday, 7 June 2007

Who needs an audit?

After loudly proclaiming that Emirates Today would be audited within months of its launch, it seems media guru Abdul Latif has now decided that even internationally-respected BPA is not up to the task (Communicate, June 2007).

"I'm the first to encourage auditing," he tells the magazine, apparently with a straight face.
But, despite being audited, many publications still inflate their circulations, he goes on to claim.
He then, again without a hint of irony, goes on to call for greater "transparency".

Is this just the latest hint that all is not well at the white-hot spearhead of the media revolution? Rumour has it Matthew Johnson has quit Dubai Eye, AMG seem to have been snubbed by Vogue, and Emirates Today consistently plumbs new depths. Could it be that, having damaged but failed to destroy 7days, Latif is now trying to discredit anyone with an audit?

Or does he have a point. Do audited titles manage to cheat the system?


ITPjourno said...

I think it's fair comment to say that audits here are not as important as they are in developed media markets (europe, americas, etc.) and so it's also fair for the blogger to insinuate that because the results of an ET audit would be particularly horrific, Abdullllatif is pouring a little oil in the well in order to prevent the ET circulation from being exposed as the joke we all know it to be.

Readers are not a stupid bunch in the main, and that is why ET's paid-for sale is just a few hundred.

7days is looking a lot more like its old self and in boxing terms, is the best pound-for-pound newspaper in the UAE by a country mile. Advertisers know this and the extensive damage that AMG and its acolytes inflicted on 7days for having the cheek to succeed is pretty much all repaired now.

If a book were opened as to which of the two titles will last the longest, you;d have to bet on the Associated title.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there are any indications whatsoever that the rug will be pulled from under ET. I am sure the several former ET journos who post regularly on here (and keep us all well informed about Chand's amazing privet-hedge tash) can confirm this.

itpjourno said...

I wasn't suggesting imminent. The 'quality' of ET and the amount of money it would lose on a level playing field would see it closed in a week but that's obviously not the case.

In the long term, however, 7days is the beginning of the application of modern journalism to a stubborn market and in a few years, things will be very different in print media in the UAE. AMG will not be one of the worlds largest media companies (!), it'll be printing flyers for Choithrams.

Anonymous said...

7 Days is an amusing tabloid and a quick source of headlines over a coffee but the best pound for pound newspaper in the UAE by a country mile? GN is much closer to a real newspaper with international sources and writers. Its editorial and opinion pages at least bring in academic and international commentary. A former Peruvian president, a retired US marine and a piece from the Christan Science Monitor on the same page is more interesting than letters from people bleating about bad traffic.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to risk the wrath of the majority by stating some of the things ET has got going for it.

Yes, I accept there is an agenda on the paper to only print the positive about Dubai, to ignore or bury anything remotely critical and yes there is some pisspoor reporting. And yes the pre-launch claims of "pushing the boundaries in Middle East journalism" seem something of a joke now.

BUT it does have a fairly big daily pagination covering the span of news, business, features, ents and sport and some of the features stuff is pretty easy on the eye. AND the use of good, well-presented pictures on those pages is to be applauded. The online paper is also quite go-ahead and easy to access, well ahead of others.

Stands back and awaits the tirade.

There's nothing that can't be fixed with new independent, brave, free-spirited owners and a team of inspirational, tough, investigative reporters ready to challenge the establishment and tell it like it is. Well, yeah, all right, I won't be holding my breath!

Anonymous said...

Emirates Today has had highly paid consultants in for months and is undergoing a substantial redesign in the next couple of months to help relaunch a disasterous project.
Shame to waste good money on all of this when the problems are very simple - inefectual and terrible management coupled with some useless members of staff and a policy of praising Dubai and the UAE at every turn.
Sack Eudore Chand (like Gulf News did) weed out the lazy, incompetent journos and photographers and realise that all cities and countries have problems and report on them and try and address them.
Then you may have a newspaper which sells a few more copies than 300 a day.
As for an ET audit - please - humiliating for them in the extreme

Anonymous said...

audits are a joke-- the publishers should never have rolled over to the agencies on this one

after playing circ "chicken" for so long and with such abandon, it would be suicide for someone to start getting honest about it

this game of "you show me yours and i'll show you mine" will end the same way it always does in real lif-- one gullble fool will do it then the rest will laugh their asrses off

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can say audits are a joke. In fact, surely the fact that publishers have been inflating their figures for years makes them even more important?

I think part of the problem with audits is that people here don't know how to read them. There are loads of consumer magazines here that shout about having impressive-sounding circulations of 30,000+, but if you actually read the actual number of news stand sales is barely in double figures, with the rest given away in hotel rooms etc.

Despite that, they are much, much better than nothing.

ex-ET staffer said...

Unfortunately ET will not go away. It is government-backed and therefore will not be allowed to fail – with or without CEO of the Year. Today's university guide is interesting - the credits list Brian Ashby – the only newspaper deputy editor who had never previously worked on a newspaper - as head of magazine publishing. Cushy job, given that they've scrapped the Friday magazine. So Brian's had his reward for toeing the compnay line, arse-licking teh CEO and lacking a spine. Interesting that of the executives on the original launch team only Brian and Eudore remain – draw your own conclusions.

Anonymous said...

The problem with ET is that it is oblivious to any and all criticism. Muna Ahmed's articles are a joke, but ET will never publish any criticism or her articles.

We really dont want ET to get audited, because then you will hear that ET has a circulation of 1 million and that just like Dubai is the best city in the world, ET is known to be the best news paper in the UAE. Anyone criticising ET is just jealous of their success

Anonymous said...

The Toady had its best chance to get somewhere while 'The Pieman' kept 7 Days down with his vicious abuse of power and position. But even then the piece of sh*t wouldn't float.

Soon AMG will wake up and realise it aint gonna work.

The Pieman has been summoned to where the real wealth and power lies so he'll have to get back under the rock from whence he crawled. At least until he has another pile of ordure to announce, keep people waiting for, etc.

Anonymous said...

Didn't think it was possible, but ET just gets worse - horrifically appalling journalism.

The SWAT news team truly plumbed new lows when reporting on the devastation by caused Cyclone Gonu this weekend. Over 28 dead and 25-plus missing at sea in nearby Oman.... huge, huge story.

Yet their front page for readers who wake up in the morning oblivious - headline and main photo - tells us of the sorry plight of one poor 80-year-old woman on the East Coast who 'lost her livestock' and whose 'furniture was ruined'.

A stunning example of journalistic incompetence. Bordering upon hilarious were it not so excruciatingly embarassing.

The hideous AMG machine rolls on.

Burj Insider said...

Speaking of cover-ups, anyone heard the rumours of a murder at the Burj in the last few weeks with links to organised crime?
Nope? me neither.

Anonymous said...

And as for GN being better than 7 Days . . .in the real world you wouldn't compare two such disparate formats. Here, however, there is little choice.

GN is a fat and lazy editorial ruminator of other people's news that has a well-entrenched and Indian-mafia connected sales team. They are hard to beat in that regard, which is why they ae so bad at editorial of their own.

7 Days is a spunky little Metro title that has the powerful UAE western expat zeitgeist behind it. It is also a little polarising because it has opinions, unlike GN, who are a bunch of butt-kissing sychophants. Stories of people who have stepped out of line at GN are legend and none of them work there today.

Anonymous said...

They do say that you get the kind of press that you deserve. And maybe Dubai has got just that, ET and all. There's a lot of people with vested interests who are quite happy that some of the real stories like rampant prostitution, people trafficking, slave labour and its appalling death toll, financial shenanigans and the covered-up crime to name but a few are left largely untouched by the Dubai media because of censorship. Let's be honest there may be one or two papers who have scratched (and I mean just scratched) the surface but no no-one can tell it like it is here. The truth is if you want to be a proper journalist and tell people about what is really going on, you have to work elsewhere. Sad but true. Too many people with too much money, power and influence who don't want the real Dubai stories told. And they pull the strings to ensure you have have a media that ends up every bit as shallow as Dubai itself.

Anonymous said...

The poster at 21:14 on June 11 is right: if you are a serious journalist, Dubai is no place for you.
Their protestations about a 'free press' for the last three years are as sincere as their claims that workers here have rights and property owners have recourse to the law - false, empty and dishonest.
They do not want you here.
They are using you as a front, by which they can persuade the Americans - the real power in the UAE - that this is a forward thinking country with first world potential.
7days did scratch the surface - but that's all it did.
The stories 7days printed were all true - the newspaper was never successfully sued - but since when did something so sordid as the truth matter in Dubai?
On a professional level, there is so much to write about here. There is so much to do, so many stories to be revealed.
On a personal level? They won't let you. Either you play the game, or you're out.
Get yourselves somewhere decent, where your work means something.
Leave Dubai to the Latif/Gavin Dickinson/Steve Lee types of parasite who can only exist in places like Dubai - and nowhere else.

Disciple of The Sawyer said...

This is why Neil Sawyer was ousted at Gulf News and then 7DAYS. His editorial style was just too powerful, too downright dangerous for the 'powers-that-be' and he had to be stopped.

A selfless sacrifice it was as well. Dignity, honour, courage. Cahracteristics all too absent in the snakepit of UAE journalism where none of us could hold our own on a European national.

Guys, it's f***ing tax free. Have a word with yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! Rampant prostitution. What other major port city with a large single male population would tolerate such horror? How is it prostitution can be so well managed and accepted as a social reality and sex workers are protected in our home countries but can still be be forced underground and operate unregulated in the UAE?

I'm outraged. Please chase down this important story and expose the corrupt flesh peddlers.

Anonymous said...

Anybody see the point passing by the last two posts. Because "it's tax free" could have been written by Gergawi himself as its as shallow and intellectually bereft as it gets. Perhaps having a word and too many other things with yourself is the problem there.

As for "Oh no! Rampant prostitution." I can't bring myself to comment.

Anonymous said...

Circulation figures and sales figures out here are made entirely of rubber.

Anonymous said...

the toad will never audit whilst production is outsourced. they are printing 38,000 copies with alghurair.fact. they are selling 900 at a peak. fact. Once their new press is completed and alghurair have breathed a sigh of relief at having gotten rid of the fools they will audit then and only then and we all know why. Their ceo is just using smoke and mirrors until he can cross the finishing line when his print plant is ready so he can control his own audit. 7days is i believe better than ever now the grey man metcalf has been given the boot, and long over due that was. You could taste his dissatisfaction with his own existence in every column centimetre, and rumour has it he went nuclear on the paper leading to all the problems they had beceause he was shafted by the ex md over his share payout from associated. He never was the sharpest tool in the box so it is believable he could have been turned over.

Anonymous said...

The 'disciple of the sawyer' hasn't missde the point, he/she is just making a ham-fisted attempt to steer this thread back on to the unemployable ex-7days editor.

There's already a thread for that, matey.

Anonymous said...

Can't bring yourself to comment? Your future in journalism etched in stone right there.

Anonymous said...

I'll bring myself to comment. If you can't see that there is a story from the point of view of people trafficking and with all the attendant issues of drugs, crime and abuse with such large-scale prostitution on the supposed "holy Arabian peninsula" while all the while the Muslim authorities pretend it doesn't exist, then maybe you should have a good look at your own nose for news. There are issues aplenty in there as with the other matters mentioned. Dubai is teeming with material and most of it goes unreported.

Anonymous said...

Chase it down Jimmy Olsen. File it under "Tale as old as time".

Anonymous said...

Who am I to argue with a valued Cyclone customer. Just keep an eye on that rash tho.

Anonymous said...

Emirates Today is the most purile rubbish I have ever read - the staff there should be ashamed of working for that dross - but then maybe many of there so called staff have found there true limits in newspapers..

Anonymous said...

Emirates Today stop putting Exclusive everywhere - you make yourselves look so stupid

Anonymous said...

Best was yet another in a series of excrutiatingly bad sports exclusives the other week. An interview with Lazio 'star' Igli Tare. Haven't heard of him. No me neither. But a bit of Googling discoverd he made one start for Lazio this season and has been dropped from the Albanian national team. How crap do you have to be to be dropped by Albania? Well done ET for giving me such a laugh with that "Exclusive". Only exclsuive because no one else would ever interview such a complete nobody.

Anonymous said...

Seems incredibly harsh on Metcalf there - no particular axe to grind myself: i never worked for him nor knew him particularly well. But it hardly seems a coincidence that 7Daysd was at its best under him.

Anonymous said...

I just cannot help laughing at all the above entries. How many of them are posted by 7DAYS staff and some disgruntled ET employees. Guys, are you not ashamed of yourselves?
There was an idiot commenting about Brian. How many Europeans, including the jokers in 7DAYS have real genuine journalistic experience? I am sure none of them here will ever even get recruited in serious newspapers back home. No wonder they flock to Dubai.
Media here including 7DAYS has got nothing to do with journalism. It’s just another way of making money.

Anonymous said...

A paid-for circulation of 900 - is that for real? Was it always intended that ET would essentially be a free paper or is it just that it turned out that way because no-one was interested in buying it? Can someone enlighten me.

It sounds like an unmitigated disaster after all the hype and cash that has been ploughed into the paper. Didn't I read somewhere it was going to be a "world class" publication with the "cream of talent from around the world" and would "set new standards in Middle East journalism"? But 900 people at the most digging into their pockets?

How does it do for ad revenue? There must be someone, somewhere doing the profit and loss accounts and having sleepless nights?

Anonymous said...

RE Anonymous at 16 June, 2007 20:17

Hi Brian

Anonymous said...

Three of the fifteen editorial staff at 7DAYS don't have experience of national press in the UK. Of this trio, one has experience from next door (KSA) and the other two from other media in UAE.

Risible, really.

Anonymous said...

And what's so great about their journalism anyway? The local news is very limited. All other newspapers have much wider and better local coverage – the best being KT followed by Gulf News, Emirates Today and Gulf Today.
The rest is anyway a rehash of AP and AFP reports......

ITPjourno said...

You're right, 7DAYS sucks big time, despite the fact the editorial staff is 1/5 the size of the other 'papers' you mention...

Better local news in ET than 7DAYS? Are you on drugs? ET is a laugh riot, but I'm not sure that's the intention...

Anonymous said...

By the way is anyone forcing 7DAYS to operate with staff 1/5 the size of other newspapers. That’s definitely not an excuse for shoddy journalism…
I was definitely not comparing 7DAYS to ET but since you are bringing in the comparison for whatever reasons it may be let’s take today’s local news for example.
The front page of 7DAYS is a story lifted directly from the wires - about a US restaurant chain with scantily clad women opening shop in Dubai…..
It’s understandable if it is uploaded onto a blog (Secret Dubai did uploaded the story the previous night at 8.15)
Instead what did ET – the ‘laugh riot’ have on its front page?
A new announcement from Dubai Police about a scheme to check credit worthiness of clients before issuing loans. (7DAYS either thought the news was not worthy of publication or because it operated with 1/5 of the staff had nobody to cover the press conference. Armchair journalism at its best.
If you think I am on drugs to state the obvious then I indeed am…
Your claims are equally amusing…
“7days ….. is the best pound-for-pound newspaper in the UAE by a country mile. Advertisers know this …… (are you speaking on behalf of the advertisers).

Anonymous said...

Titty bar in Dubai or praise police pr guff...know what I'd rather read

Anonymous said...

Anon at 12.36 Just because you work for Emirates Today doesn't mean it isn't shit - deal with it and get over it.

Anonymous said...

what does an audit matter if a newspaper's making money? that is the only test abdullatif must pass and the only one sheikh mo will hold him to. is an audit required to bring in the advertisers?

let's look it at another way: media businesses have longer break-even periods than bricks and mortar ones. three years is about the norm in our luvly Western markets.

how long will ET take? if Gulf Snooze is any indication, four relaunches should do it. if they get rid of brainless brian, that is.

Anonymous said...

Can you add this as an anonymous entry, the latest copy rules at emirates today:


Please avoid using sex and its related words like gay, homosexual, rape and prostitution in headlines.
Do not also use words like trafficking in headlines.
Avoid labourer in headline and body copy. Use words like workers or employees or staff.
Do not use pictures of construction workers.

Any exceptions to the above rules are to be okayed by the Duty Editor.

Hope this clears any doubts.



Brian Ashby said...

Hi, First time I've seen this blog. Interesting. If anybody else would like to comment about me, please use journalism rule number one and call me first to get your facts straight.
Brian Ashby
050 4241547

Anonymous said...

Anyone got the gossip from the latest culling at Dubai Eye? Is it true the Speakeasy girls are gone and the news team have been sacked?

Anonymous said...

need a date, brian?

Anonymous said...

It's not just ET,
It seems not only dose AMG hire crappy jurnalists with no experiance but newly launched MTV Arabya is being run by amature rookies that come from backgrounds such as a cordinator and pharmasists..or people who have no TV broadcasting experiance what so lame is that!

ralita said...

to ex ET staffer and anonymous: what did you get sacked for browsing on facebook and not doing your job? If that’s the case then yes you can go back to AMG and say things like this – and nobody will listen. But you know what Brian, Brandy, Yudullah and Jason are friends and FYI i have worked with Brian for 3 years as well - i have never seen more professional member of the team than him. I know a lot of people that worked with AMG and are still working there. The wrong thing is the vision of the CEO and the limitations of this country and obviously incompetent staff like your self that were indeed "let go" because of your infantile behavior.

About MTV i know a lot of talented people working in MTV and i admire them for doing so much with such little resources and freedoms.

So stop being so bitter. That’s so childish and so negative it makes me think of how miserable small and pity your lives actually are. Or may be you are still sore that this was your only opportunity to be part of a real team and real job?